How high-fat diets increase colon cancer risk

Epidemiologists have long warned that, in addition to causing obesity, eating too much fat and sugar puts a person at greater risk for colon cancer.

Now, researchers at Temple University have established a link that may explain how and why high fat diets are linked to colon cancer.

`There have always been questions about why things like diet and obesity are independent risk factors for colon cancer,` said Carmen Sapienza, professor of pathology in Temple`s Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology, the study`s lead author.

`This study suggests how and why high fat diets are linked to colon cancer,` he said.

The researchers compared colon tissue in non-colon cancer patients with normal colon tissue in patients with the disease. In the normal tissue from patients with colon cancer, they found that epigenetic marks on genes involved in breaking down carbohydrates, lipids and amino acids – abundant in the fatty Western diet – appeared to have been retrained.

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Epigenetic marks are chemical modifications that serve as on/off switches for many genes.

`These foods are changing the methylation patterns on a person`s insulin genes so that they express differently, pumping out more insulin than the body requires,` stated.

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